How this 27 year old Indian CA found an opportunity in The Netherlands thanks to his knowledge in Data Analytics
- Have you considered ‘Moving the Netherlands’? According to the World Economic Forum, the Netherlands ranks first as the best place to live in for expatriate families.
- Hi! I am Rishabh Lamba, a Chartered Accountant from India. I cleared my CA Exams in the first attempt, struggled to find a job to finally working in the Netherlands in Data Analytics.
- Here is my journey so far from India to the Netherlands and how you can too find opportunities here!
From an average student to a Chartered Accountant
I was born and bought up in Lucknow (India). In school, I was quite an average student but good in mathematics.
After completing my class 12 exams, I had no clear vision about my career. All of my friends were moving to Delhi to pursue graduation from Delhi University , and I did the same. (Yes, I followed the crowd!)
The turning point in my life came - when all my friends got admission in reputed colleges but I DID NOT. This made me realize that I needed to be focused and dedicated to being successful in life.
Around the same time, my roommate came with the examination form for the CA Exams from ICAI, India. And I had nothing to lose and so decided to give Chartered Accountancy a try!
Previously, I had neither the vision nor the certainty about my future and career development, but after enrolling for CA, I became a more focused person, setting up the right priorities for myself.
I completed my articles from a mid-sized firm in Lucknow (India), primarily with experience in Audit and Taxation.
Even though I had always been a very average student, I managed to clear all the CA examinations in the first attempt. (Wohooo!)
Struggling to find a job as a Qualified Accountant
Since I cleared all the CA exams on the first attempt, I was optimistic about a job offer at the earliest. Unfortunately, that did not happen! On the contrary, I struggled to get even an interview call.
And on the other hand, a lot of my friends (who did not even clear in the first attempt) already had interviews lined up and had job offers pouring in.
I was feeling miserable and dejected! That is when I realized the unnecessary hype regarding the number of attempts in the CA industry. In reality, what matters is your personality and confidence, not your number of attempts!
Initially, I was scared as I did not know what I was doing wrong but then I kept applying for various job opportunities.
And after a couple of months of job hunting, I got an opportunity with EY, Gurgaon (India). This was in their shared services center (offshore practice).
I took up the opportunity. (Obviously!)
Opportunity with a Big 4...Finally!!!
Initially, when I started working at EY, I was part of the statutory audit department, performing routine audit work.
Within the first 6 months of my joining, I got to know that EY was opening a new center in Chennai. And they offered all its current employees the chance to move there. This new center had some amazing opportunities and was also working to embrace the digital era.
Working in the offshore practice had its cons like doing a lot of objective work i.e. simple reconciliation tasks but there was always scope for subjective things such as substantive audit, data analytics among others.
But the best thing was - if moved to Chennai, I would be considered an experienced professional in the new environment and at the same time; I could learn new and interesting digital auditing techniques.
Around the same time, I realized the importance of data analytics in audit and its dependency in the future.
So I took up this opportunity and moved to EY, Chennai.
Also during my two-year stint with EY India, I was fortunate to get an opportunity to work with EY Sweden for 6 months. It was my first experience abroad, both personally and professionally and it was really special.
Moving to the Netherlands, Finally!
Once my rotation at EY Sweden ended and I was back in India, I actively started searching for opportunities abroad especially in Europe.
It was not easy but luckily within a few weeks, I got a call from KPMG Netherlands for a vacancy in Data Analytics.
And since I experience in Data Analytics with EY, India - It all worked out.
I was fortunate enough to clear all the interview rounds and was selected to join their team in the Netherlands. I packed my bags and happily made Amsterdam my new home.
Now I am happily working in the Netherlands, primarily helping auditors use data analytical capabilities in their audit work!
“How I applied to KPMG, Netherlands from my home country?”
As mentioned above, I did not plan on working in the Netherlands. In fact, after working in Sweden for 6 months, I just wanted to move to any good city in Europe.
While still in my home country (India), I started applying for job options online, especially on LinkedIn.
Initially, I applied for multiple openings haphazardly but soon realized that this would not work. So, I rectified this mistake and started looking for profiles that best met my skill sets and experience. Simultaneously, I was also pursuing ACCA (UK). Since I am a CA from ICAI, I could avail exemptions and had to write only five exams. I appeared for two papers and cleared them, scoring AIR 1 (Worldwide Rank 3) in Business Analysis. This further boosted my morale.
During my online search for a job in Europe, I came to the online portal of KPMG in the Netherlands and saw a profile where the job description perfectly defined my skill sets and experiences, therefore, I optimistically applied!
And got selected for the interview!
“What was the Interview Procedure at KPMG, Netherlands?”
The interviews overall went very smoothly, with a mix of technical and non-technical questions.
My approach towards the interview was to be confident and honest and always expect the best outcome. They had the following rounds:
- Online Assessment test: I got a call from the team of KPMG Netherlands to give an online assessment test. This included some personality-related questions.
- Second Round Interview: After the online test, I had a Skype interview scheduled with the HR Head and Senior Manager. The questions were a mix of technical and non-technical questions, which I was able to answer easily.
- Final Interview Round: The next interview was again on Skype with the team I was going to work, the manager and senior engineer. This time we ended up having the interview via Facetime due to some connectivity issues with skype. This round also went well.
- Time for the Results: To my surprise the next day itself I got a call and I was offered a permanent job. I was informed via call the next day after the second interview that I was offered a permanent job with KPMG with a 5-year work permit. The very next day I had my discussion with HR. So totally in a week, the process was closed and the offer letter was issued.
Some Key Interview Hacks:
- The main tip is to be confident and honest. Dutch people are very direct.
- Do not write anything in your resume which is not true.
- In your resume explain what you have done and why do you feel your skill sets are a good match for the profile they are looking for
- Do your homework about the job profile your applying for. Understand the job description well and also alter your resume according to it so that your important skill sets are highlighted. But again if you have those skills. Do not bluff and be very honest.
"Should I consider a career in Finance in the Netherlands?"
The Netherlands and Amsterdam, in particular, are famous for their innovations and digital enhancements around the world. India has a mass population of engineers who have ample lucrative opportunities available here.
There are various great career opportunities in the Netherlands, but primarily for professionals with IT-related skillsets.
There is a lot of Finance/Accounting jobs in the Netherlands for expats. Chartered Accountants/ ACCAs/ CPAs can find opportunities with accounting and auditing firms like the Big 4s.
It is preferable for an expat to apply after obtaining a certain amount of prior experience (minimum 2-3 years) or else there is not enough motivation for the company to sponsor for your visa.
If one is searching for a company to also sponsor their visa, then they have to make sure that they have relevant skill sets that are in high demand.
Some finance-related profiles which are in high demand currently in the Netherlands are Data Analytics, IT audit, Advisory-M&A, SAP Consultants among many others.
“I need a job in the Netherlands. Where Do I Start?”
- The Netherlands have their own local accounting body and the CAs are called Registered Accountants (RA). ACCA and CPA are quite widely recognized here.
- I would advise looking for a company that you would like to work with and then visit its online portal for relevant job openings. Most multinational companies are ready to sponsor for your visa which makes the process a lot easier.
- Also, a good way to search is via LinkedIn. Try to connect with the HR and active professionals to inform you of relevant job openings.
- Also, try to attend different meetings and seminars where like-minded professionals would come to attend.
“What is it Living in The Netherlands?”
The Netherlands is a beautiful country. It is famous for its water management, bikes, and cheese. The work-life balance is amazing. The Dutch give more preference to their personal lives in comparison to their professional life which makes life more real.
- Cost of Living in the Netherland
- The cost of living in the Netherlands, especially in Amsterdam is quite high. But if you choose another city like Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Zwolle, Utrecht, etc., the prices are going to be comparatively less.
- The rent for a single occupancy room can range from 600-1000 EUR per month (including electricity, water and cleaning expenses) depending on your locality.
- Monthly fixed insurance expenses are within 70-120 EUR.
- It is important to know how to cook (YouTube is your savior) if you do not want to spend money eating outside. Monthly grocery expenses can be easily managed in 200-300 Euros. There are many Indian grocery stores and restaurants in the city; therefore food has never been a problem. The cities are bike (cycle) friendly with great infrastructure, hence traveling is also healthy and economical.
- Salary in the Netherlands for Accountant
- The Netherlands has a minimum wage limit of approx. EUR 1600 per month but the salary would depend on the experience and profile applied for.
- The average salary for an experienced Senior Auditor would be EUR 50-75K per annum.
- Moreover, if you fall under the category of a highly skilled migrant which makes the 30% ruling apply to you. This means that you do not pay any tax on 30% of your income i.e. you pay tax on 70% of your Gross Income.
- Overall one easily can save more in comparison to what they would in India (or any developing country) and at the same time live a healthy and successful life.
Data Analytics 101
In the current era, where data is being considered as one of the most expensive commodities and technology is rapidly changing, it is imperative to embrace this change and bring innovations in how we work.
To put it simply, Data Analytics is the analysis of data. For us Chartered Accountants, the client’s transactions recorded in the books of accounts are the relevant data.
We perform our audit using data analytical tools that help us replace traditional manual audit procedures like reconciliations, a three-way match, recalculations, valuations, etc.
We also use different auditing techniques such as Correlation Analysis between two related accounts, which help bring efficiency and effectiveness in the audit by bringing more quality, since everything is automated.
With the use of data analytical capabilities, auditors are able to focus only on outliers and perform a risk-based audit.
Being a Data Analyst – The Future Lies Within?
Looking at how technology is drastically changing the dynamics of businesses around the globe, I feel Data Analytics is the future of how we perform a secure and reliable Audit. There are a lot of innovative techniques being designed to help reduce the boring redundant tasks and help focus on more pressing issues.
Having a strong understanding of journal entries and business understanding is required to be able to efficiently analyze and perform analytical work on the data. That is why Chartered Accountants with Data Analytical skills are in great demand.
My current profile includes helping the auditors use data analytics capabilities in their audit engagements.
#MyJobRole: I manage a team of IT technical professionals who perform secure data extraction from the client system, cleanse and validate the data using analytical tools and preparing systematic audit analytical reports which replace traditional manual audit procedures; thereby bringing more efficiency in the audit process.
Definitely, I would advise fellow CA colleagues to get acquainted with it to be ready for the ever-changing future.
The Netherlands is an amazing country to work and live in. The work-life balance is great. The country offers excellent infrastructure and facilities. Equal opportunities are given to everyone.
At the same time getting a job abroad is not that easy but pretty much doable.
Start your search by identifying the companies you want to work for and look for job opportunities on their online portal.
Go through the job description carefully and if your skill sets match the requirements, prepare a well-crafted CV and apply.
Now It's Your Turn...
Are you considering moving to the Netherlands?
What steps are you taking towards your move?
Anyway, I could help? Please leave your comments in the section below. I could also be reached on LinkedIn at Rishabh Lamba.
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